All in all 2002 turned out to be a less depressing year than the preceding twelve months. No major disease threats afflicted the farming community and the predicted meltdown in the global economy didn't transpire (although doomsayers are still holding out for global recession to materialise in the short term.)
However the small sector (relatively speaking) that concerns this little organ has had its share of ups and downs over the past year from the passing of some noted luminaries in the industry to damaging television "exposés"; new ventures starting up, while older, established ones closed down; fears of diseases old and new continuing apace; Polish produce being attacked for its undercutting ability, yet links between Irish and Polish growers being strengthened by mutual visits (as they should be) - the year has been as unpredictable as ever.
The Mushroom People year started with a look at the Campbells of Kilkeel growing with Amycel Delta Stalker hopes they had a good year in the end. David Seaby was invoking the wisdom of Solomon trying to determine the source of an outbreak of Trichoderma! MIANI were attending the "Vision for the future of the Agri-food industry" when the North still had an executive that was functioning. And there was even a plaintive plea in the form of "A Poor Pickers Prayer".
In February Dillon Design Engineering entered the industry fray and a letter to the editor ruffled a few feathers signed 'Save The Irish Mushroom Industry - (whoever did pen that excitatory epistle??). SMS that's Scully Mushroom Supplies (not short message system) launched a new range of services and Dutch company C-Point offered their range of courses to Irish industry players.
Scintillating articles by Carl Bozicek on the subject of Overlay and Dave Seaby on how to limit green mould mayhem no doubt kept readers up to date on the latest thinking, while IPP's Stuart Whitehall set forth his thinking against monopolistic tendencies. There was an AEM controls seminar, MIANI made bids for EU grants and JFMcKenna's Geraldine Beagan hopped it to down under (still no doubt enjoying the year out!)
In March the industry lost an innovator when Francie McArdle passed away. McGeary Fresh swung into full operation with a grand opening by Minister Bríd Rodgers, and flies were the nuisance subject besetting "resident" expert David Seaby.
JFM were telling us all to "Cool Down" in April, Fancom were launching new gear for the Den Bosch event in Holland, and Stuart Whitehall investigated the Italian Mushroom industry for us. Also under investigation by Jane Smith (HRI) and Aneeta Gupta (Becker Underwood) was the sphaerocerid (remember?) - a.k.a the dungfly! An article by Stephen Jess and Mairead Kilpatrick set out an integrated pest management strategy surely an invaluable article for growers. A bumper pest edition, with a Seaby special on Cobweb too!
May began with fears emanating from Donegal about the future of the industry. Becker Underwood had done some global positioning and a name change. The best title on a Seaby article thus far "The Bucket Has Landed" and a look at information by IT consultant Brendan Howling. As ever this year there were farm walks galore with Amycel and Sylvan vying for top spot.
June was marred by the untimely death of Jim Dicks a tireless worker in the industry; and the death of well-known grower Hugh McKee. MIANI were warning growers not to miss out on the EU grants that were being bid for and Sylvan provided summer growing tips. Sylvan and Connaught mushrooms had also made a successful trip to Poland. A comprehensive list of approved products for the mushroom industry also appeared courtesy of Mairead Kilpatrick, John Murray and Cathal Ellis.
The slow summer months of July and August were filled with trips to Poland and California; info-packed Seaby articles on Penicilium Implicatum and on the question of quality versus yield; a medical nod to the cancer-fighting qualities of exotic fungi and a Teagasc report on the consolidation in mushroom production in the South.
The September edition had a report on the Ukrainian mushroom industry; Sylvan had some visitors at HQ from Northway and organised a seminar with DANI, while Amycel held a series of farm walks on the subject of Dutch shelving. A curiosity piece on the potential of wild mushrooms to clean up radioactive land also appeared.
October detailed Fancom training days that had been organised by JFMcKenna, America was "the place to be", and the new picking machine was subjected to the scrutiny of Richard Gaze. Martin Duffy did an excellent piece on "Analysing Your Business" and the Glenveagh lorry drivers had a farewell do (n.b.- a poem to commemorate the occasion wasn't printed due "blue" content ed.).
And in November David Seaby looked at brown plaster mould " a fool can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer"; to be sure the author is no fool. MIANI held its marketing conference, we got the condensed wisdom of Carl Bozicek from Amycel, some picking strategies from Sylvan and Italspawn spawning ever more successful growers.
All in all a good year, especially for Armaghians! And even the contentious issue of workers from Eastern European States is set to dissolve with the accession of 10 new States into the EU in 2 years time.
Thanks are extended to all contributors to The Mushroom People throughout the year may 2003 be an even better year for the industry North and South.